Why Collaboration is Key to Cleaning up our Air: EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2024 Retrospective


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Catherine Kenyon is Head of Clean Air Programmes at UK-based sustainability charity, Global Action Plan (GAP). She leads collaborations on air pollution programmes with the health sector, schools, local authorities, and community groups.

Catherine’s keynote at EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2024 featured real-life case studies from across the UK demonstrating how collaboration has been used to tackle air pollution. This included the development of the Clean Air Hospital Framework with Great Ormond Street Hospital, and it’s subsequent scaling up to ICS level, utilising collaborations across primary and secondary care and local authorities to address the root causes of air pollution. Examples were also shared from the education sector on ground breaking work with schools, businesses, and local authorities to not only improve air quality at the school gate, but to use the voice of young people to secure their rights internationally.

Finally, Catherine introduced Clean Air Day, the UK’s largest national campaign on air pollution, and explained exactly why the need to collaborate and take action on air pollution has never been more important.

Summary of presentation highlights:

  • GAP Vision – A green and thriving world where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth’s limits;
  • GAP Mission – Tackling the root causes of our climate and nature crisis through research, campaigns and collective action that reconnect human and planetary health;
  • People – Air pollution negatively impacts every organ in the body and is attributed to over 36,000 UK deaths annually; It costs the UK as much as £19bn per year in health and productivity loss costs; It affects the most vulnerable the most – the young, the sick and the old and those in the most deprived areas least able to escape it;
  • Planet – Air pollution is a by product of one of our major causes of climate change – the burning of fossil fuels; It is a tangible symptom of our GHG emitting systems;
  • How do Global Action Plan make change happen? Identify why and how systems need to change; Behaviour and beliefs change – framed and supported by systems changing; Bring organisations and people along this journey with knowledge, tools and agency to create organisational/behavioural change; The system changes – through policy intervention with the support of people and professionals; Influence decision makers – advocate for and demonstrate what’s possible along with the mandate for change;
  • Fresh Air Future – Everyone in urban areas can breathe clean air:
  • The problem – Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health, and it impacts people unfairly, The air pollution and climate crises both stem from burning fossil fuels;
  • Systems we need to change – Elimination of use of fossil fuels and wood from domestic transport, heating and cooking in urban areas;
  • Collaboration Model – To mobilise and enable organisations and their stakeholders to act towards a clean air future, through research, campaigns and collective action through three areas: 1) Role Model – Reducing air pollution from their own practice 2) Educate – Influencing their stakeholders to cut pollution and protect their health 3) Champion – Working together to call for the systematic changes required;

  • Example 1 – Health Sector Collaboration for Clean Air:
  • NHS commitments on air pollution – Halve contribution to poor air quality within a decade, while reducing health inequalities; Healthcare staff training to include the health effects of air pollution, how to minimise these, and communicate this with parents; Include air pollution in their Green Plan;
  • NHS/Hospital Infographic – Onsite energy production/Solar; Offsite energy production/Wind; Eco-friendly cleaning products; Electric boilers; Less pollution in proximity; Electric delivery vehicles; Engaging with the community; Cycling & walking encouraged; Local transport links; Green space; Bicycle parks; Electric vehicle charging points; Last mile delivery;
  • ICS Clean Air Framework – Digitalisation, Educating Staff, Infrastructure, Local Authority Collaboration, Strategic Decision Making, Supply Chain, Transport, Whole Health Care Approach; Framework progress; Framework stakeholders – Clinical Commissioning Groups, Acute Trusts, Mental Health Trusts, Ambulance Trusts, Hospitals, Primary Care Networks, Community Providers, GP Practices, Local Authorities, Cities, Population;
  • GP pilot with communications campaign with the London Borough of Islington – Islington GP asked to monitor air pollution levels on her commute and then make a positive change to her journey to see if it affected exposure; GPs understood more about air pollution – >90% of health professionals felt confident to talk to patients about air pollution after the training; GPs advised their patients more about air pollution – 7% of GPs had spoken to patients about air pollution before training but this figure rose to 88% after training; Patient understanding increased – knowledge that air pollution is present inside and outside the home increased from 80% to 94%;
  • Example 2 – Schools Collaboration for Clean Air:
  • Schools’ commitments on air pollution – Asthma Friendly Schools Guide: “In relation to children with asthma, this means that an ICS should, within reason, make sure support and health care is in place to improve their health or at least keep them healthy”; Recognises air pollution at school as an asthma trigger that needs to be managed;

  • Almost all schools in the UK are in areas with air pollution above safe levels, exposing young people to dangerously high levels in their daily lives (based on WHO limits, 2021);
  • Clean Air for Schools Framework – Developed by GAP, Philips Foundation and University of Manchester, the Framework asks simple questions to tailor actions across four areas: 1) Voice – Campaign for change using student/school voices. e.g. working with your local authority to reduce traffic passing the school 2) Education – Raise awareness of air pollution sources, impacts & solutions with pupils, the local community and beyond. e.g. assemblies for students, air pollution info in school newsletter 3) Operations – Cut the air pollution that the school generates and reduce pollution levels in the classroom. e.g. good ventilation, consolidating deliveries 4) School gate – Tackle the air pollution generated at the school gates. e.g. providing scooter & bicycle parking, trialling a school street;
  • Freedom to breathe – “Our school”;
  • Example 3 – Local Authority Collaboration for Clean Air:
  • Clean Air Day – The UK’s largest air pollution campaign, bringing together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector;
  • Clean Air Day aims – Help drive a positive shift in public knowledge and action; Mobilise people to take action to reduce air pollution and adopt clean air behaviours; Increase public backing for air pollution measures;
  • Results and impact – 1) Learn: Clean Air Day encourages people to learn about air pollution – 43% of people across the country have heard of Clean Air Day/300+ events run by schools, businesses, local authorities and community groups that shared information about the harms of air pollution and what we can do about it/7700 resources downloaded by supporters and participants, including 3000 school resources downloaded and delivered in schools 2) Act: cycling, walking or taking public transport instead of using car is key action people can take to improve air quality – 35% of those who had heard about the campaign had cycled over the past month vs. 12% of those who hadn’t heard of the campaign/52% of those who had heard about the campaign had walked over the past month vs. 40% of those who hadn’t heard of the campaign 3) Ask: 612 letters sent to councillors in support of clean air measures – 200+ health professionals from Ride of their Lives wrote to the Prime Minister to urge action on air pollution and express their support for schemes such as London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ);

  • Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Trust, Liverpool – The Alder Hey green team hosted a Clean Air Day event to raise awareness of air pollution and the work they are doing to achieve their net zero target of carbon emissions by 2030. They had stalls, presentations from clinicians, air quality experts, and also a hydrogen powered bus for their employees’ commute. As well as their staff, they engaged with 10 trusts, cycling specialists and local schools;
  • Newport City Council, Wales – Newport City Council organised an event at Jubilee Park Primary School. They set up interactive experiments and demonstrations that allowed students to engage with air quality. They also exhibited air pollution sensors to test, a mobile ‘Smogmobile’ monitoring station and one of Newport’s zero emission electric Refuse Trucks. ECO council representatives and staff from Bassaleg Cluster schools attended the event, along with members of the community air quality groups which had been set up as pat of Newport City Council’s air quality action planning;
  • Air Pollution Calculator – Calculate how your activity contributes to pollution levels and learn how you can make a difference;
  • Clean Air Night – Shining a light on the uncomfortable truth about wood burning

If you meet our regular delegate qualification criteria but were unable to join us at Greencoat Place Conference Centre, London, for the live in-person event on May 1st, CLICK HERE and complete the short “Download form” (located at the bottom of the post) to receive a unique link enabling free access to the presentation video recordings and slides (including the film footage and slides from Catherine’s keynote).

Those qualifying to receive the rich presentation content from this event include commissioning, procurement, trialling, partnering and policy leads, senior influencers, strategic decision makers, environmental managers and planners from local authorities (e.g. city, borough, metropolitan, district and county councils); public and private transport operators/service providers; sub-regional transport bodies, combined authorities, integrated transport authorities and passenger transport executives; freight and logistics operators; airports and port operators; vehicle manufacturers; energy providers; potential partners from industry (e.g. retail, construction, manufacturing and waste management sectors) and healthcare; DfT, Defra, EA, BEIS, DHSC, UKHSA and other supporting national agencies; prime contractors; academia etc.

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EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Classes show key buyer side stakeholders how they can deploy the latest digital technology-enabled solutions, data-driven strategies, policies and best practices to improve urban air quality and drive down emissions and air pollution in our cities and regions. EMISSIONS & AIR QUALITY Smart Class 2024 will be hosted in London on May 1st.


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